NOAA draws heat for plans to curb Atlantic boat speeds

 NOAA Fisheries chief Janet Coit on Tuesday defended a proposed rule to save endangered North Atlantic right whales by getting more boaters to slow down.

Testifying before a House Natural Resources subcommittee, Coit said reduced speed limits for boaters in zones all along the Atlantic coast would be one of the best ways to make sure the species doesn’t go extinct.

Many Republicans and officials with the maritime industry assailed the proposal, saying it would hurt the economy.

“I cannot take people fishing at a speed of 10 knots. It is simply not feasible, and as a result these trips would have to be cancelled,” said Fred Gamboa, captain of Andreas’ Toy Charters in Princeton, N.J.

Frank Hugelmeyer, CEO of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, told lawmakers that NOAA’s proposed rule would jeopardize thousands of jobs and force boaters to travel at “the speed of a bicycle.”

“If NOAA insists on moving forward with this profoundly ill-conceived proposal, Congress must act to protect Americans and their livelihoods,” he said, calling the proposal “the greatest restriction of public access to our nation’s cherished waterways in our time.”

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